I was a bit worried about this one because I’d chosen it for May’s book club read. It hadn’t occurred to me to worry until B pointed out that choosing the book club book was a lot of pressure. I actually disagreed with her, “it’s not your fault if it’s a rubbish book; you didn’t write it.” Then, when I finally sat down to choose I realised I wanted to pick a book that everyone would enjoy but that wasn’t the typical thing anyone would read – quite a tricky task.
Eventually I settled on Mr Splitfoot (trust me when I tell you my longlist had twenty books in it and my shortlist had four) because the idea of a modern gothic novel was very, very appealing. Plus, I’d read that it was weird and I was in the mood for weird. Oh, and it only came out in January, so it was unlikely that anyone would have already read it.
Now I’m writing this before the book club meets (although this post will go out on Sunday I’m writing on Thursday and the club meets on Friday). So this is before the discussion can biased my opinion: I liked Mr Splitfoot. Oh, it was very weird and at times quite uncomfortable but it was a very compelling read.
It features two, intertwining narratives. The first is set a few decades ago and follows Nat and Ruth orphans who live at a care home run by an ultra-religious man known only as “The Father.” They start talking to the dead, and it’s generally unclear whether they really can or they’re just good con artists, in any case this new “skill” helps them to leave the home and the first narrative follows them as they do.
The second is set in the present day and follows and older Ruth who now won’t speak, walking across New York with her pregnant niece, Cora. Cora tells this part in the first person and follows Ruth without really knowing why.
It’s all just so delightfully creepy and is unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time. There are elements of the best of Palahnuik and Copeland here, along with an atmosphere from favourite childhood ghost stories. I sort of want to just go back and read it all over again.